I can't believe it has been two years since you've been gone. I still remember the day you died like it was yesterday. Monday, April 28th was a beautiful day. It was in the 60's and sunny. I remember the trees swaying in the breeze, and thinking just what a beautiful day it was; how it was one of the type of days you loved. It was neither too hot nor too cold, there was a nice breeze and NO BUGS YET! Dad called that morning to tell me they had to take you to the hospital the night before. He felt bad that you were at the hospital knowing how much you preferred being in your own bed. Unfortunately, Dr. O'Reilly was in Florida and you got the new cocky oncologist who really did a horrible job of managing your pain. I was with you a few hours before, and Dr. S. had you on a Dilaudid drip that contained A LOT less medicine than the morphine you were on previously. We put you under because we felt you were in too much pain. We thought the drip would be good; you would not be concious anymore and thus not feel any pain. You had told us you had enough, and when you told us that, we knew you had. The last words you and I spoke to one another were right before we changed you to the drip. I told you I loved you, and you were able to say clearly that you loved me too. I am SO glad that those were our last words to each other. At any rate, the drip was put in and you were soon in a sort-of drug induced coma; I know as a nurse you knew what we were doing. In fact, I believe you had your care all outlined, which we appreciated. The problem that occurred was Dr. S. gave you too low of a dose and you suffered through withdrawal. I cannot get over how cruel this was. You had to deal with the pain of cancer as well as the pain of drug withdrawal. I know Dr. S.'s fate is in the Lord's hands and I am trying to leave it to Him to deal with, but it's so hard. I saw you suffer, and like a parent with a child, I wanted to relieve any pain you were experiencing, so did Dad. We don't talk about this with Dad often; he is still too upset about it.
So Dad decided it was time to admit you to the hospital for some proper pain relief. The ambulance drivers, who were about 18-19 years old, treated you with little respect. Chris V., who worked for that ambulance company, told me at your wake that that is because you were a DNR. The ambulance company sends the least experienced workers to DNR's because they aern't going to have to resuscitate you. Basically, all they do is load and unload patients. Isn't that nice? Actually I am sickened to this day by their lack of regard for you and your pain.
I called Lee and she came over within the hour to watch Stephen. I stopped at the 7-11 to get Dad and I Super-Big Gulps because I felt this would be a long day for us and we could use the caffeine. None of us were sleeping much either. I headed to the hospital and don't remember too much. Mike arrived shortly after I did, and I remember thinking how it was just the four of us again. You appeared at peace, and finally out of pain. I didn't know exactly what to do at this point. Dad, Mike and I talked about Dad staying overnight, and I worried about not being there when you died. I did not want to get a phone call telling me you passed away; I wanted to be there.
Somewhere in the middle of this I decided I should call Jeff; I still don't know what pushed me in that direction. I didn't believe that you were going to die that day; I really didn't. So why did I feel so compelled to call Jeff and Pastor Blankman? Maybe it was you. I know you would have wanted Jeff by my side when you passed on. You knew he would make me feel better and take care of me. Even though it was busy season, Jeff left immediately. And he WAS there next to me when you died. Which leads me to the moments proceeding your death. Can you believe that the hospital was testing the fire alarms? We noticed your chest rise sharply. Then Mike, who I must admit was WAY more observant than the rest of us, said he didn't think you were breathing. Dad paged the nurse and she said your death was imminent. We all gathered around your bed, held onto you and told you it was OK for you to let go; we would be okay. And with that, you were gone. It was surreal, Mom. I have never seen someone die before. I was so glad we were all there with you, and that you did it your way.
Pastor Blankman arrived only minutes later, and was upset she missed your final moments. Route 83 was very busy that day; I know you can relate to that. Pastor Blankman was crying alongside of us; she felt a strong connection to you. Remember you were born on the same day and year as each other. She had grown close to you throughout your battle with breast cancer. I respect her so much; she was so good to all of us. Anyway, I felt so bad for her that I was trying to make her feel better. Julie and her mom came to the hospital and sat with us until we were ready to leave. Sarah just couldn't come. She was on her way and had to turn around. Dad took us to the room where you had your chemotherapy. I couldn't believe it was so small and so normal looking.
When we went to Dad's later that evening, I ran upstairs and took your past, present and future diamond ring that you left me. It hasn't been out of my sight since. I also wear you cross necklace every day; it helps me to feel like you're still with me. And in a way, I believe you are.
Oh, my gosh Mom, your wake was packed! People came from all over to pay their last respects. People I hadn't seen in ten or more years in some cases. We also received letters over the following months from friends sharing moments that they'll never forget. Your laugh was among the #1 things people say they remember about you. So your high school nickname of 'Giggles' still lives on.
I think about you every day. I see you in myself as I mother Stephen. I hear you whenever I try to make a hard decision. Hell, I hear you everytime I get upset about Jeff having to work late again. "Bev, it's his job. You do like to eat don't you? Don't give him any more problems about it. He doesn't like it anymore than you do." and so on. I have mellowed which is good. I just wish you could be here to see it! I wish you could be here to see Stevie grow up. Man is that kid a sweetie! You would've loved him; Dad is right. I wish we could go to lunch together, go shopping, grab a coffee in the mall and talk again. Christmas shopping just sucks now; it's a job not something I enjoy anymore. Hell, the holidays just aern't the same anymore. If I didn't have Stevie, I just wouldn't bother. Christmas is just a time where Jeff's family gets upset with us anyway. I know when Stevie is old enough to understand, it should get to be more fun. I think he will understand a lot more this year. I also am having a hard time coming to terms with the fact you will never get to meet this baby. With Stephen, I have pictures with you holding him, and I could call you for reasurrance during those early days when I just was having the hardest time. I still laugh when I think about how you talked me down from the 'routine' ledge I had myself planted on. You and I are so routine-orientated. Well, I remember you telling me about the bedtime routine you had Mike and I on. I was wearing myself out giving Stephen a bath every night, reading a book to him etc. You told me, "Bev, he's only a week and a half old. You don't have to have him on a routine yet." It seems like such a little thing, but I breathed a sigh of relief. I figured if the queen of routine told me to let it go, then it must be OK to let it go. I don't have to do everything perfectly and certainly not at this early stage. Now with this baby I won't have that. It scares me. WIll I have even worse PPD this time because you're not here. Who will take care of ME? No one is like your mom. OK. Your Son-in-Law just accidentally played the last two messages you left on our answering machine. I just heard your voice. Yes, I still have those messages on my machine. I also have them burned onto a CD as well. I know you regretted not remembering grandma's voice.
Well, I better go to bed, huh? I just want you to know that I AM okay. I just miss you all the time, but I am doing better than the first year. Till we meet again. I LOVE YOU, MOM.
My Eulogy to You From Your Funeral
I've thought a lot in the last few days about how to summarize the type of person my mother was. She was a daughter, sister, niece, aunt, friend, mother and grandmother. But she was much more than those titles encompass. You see my mother was one of those rare individuals who truly put others' needs in front of her own. If you needed to talk, she'd listen. If someone was ill, she was there to make sure they were receiving the best medical care possible. She was a caregiver, and enjoyed that role to the fullest. I know she took excellent care of my brother Mike and myself. Whether it was a skinned knee or hurt feelings she was there. My mother was a room mother and always went on field trips. She was careful, though, to make sure she evenly divided those tasks between my brother and I. My mother was a fun mother. She genuinely enjoyed spending time with us (except my teenage years. I just never knew when to close my mouth!) She actually looked forward to summer break as much as we did. My mother drew people to her. I remember my teenage friends wanting to come to my house and talk to her. I didn't understand it then, but I do now. They came because she truly listened to them. Unfortunately as a teacher, I see far too many kids who are looking for a person like my mom. I feel truly blessed that she was there for me, and she always was.
After my teenage years my mom became my best friend. We did everything together. We loved to shop. Yes, we were THOSE people who shopped the day after Thanksgiving. I was so proud of my mom when she made the decision to go back to college. We actually took a class at the same school, and would meet together during our break. My mom was a big proponent of education. She used to say that education is something no one can take away from you, and being a teacher I know she's right! She was so proud that she raised two children who became college graduates.
The older I became the closer I got to my mother. We talked all the time, and shared our views on many different topics. I realized what a highly intelligent woman she was.
My mother was also the strongest woman I know. AS I watched her battle cancer, I saw that strength again and again. My father and I recently discussed that we never heard her ask,"Lord, why me?" She just kept on living. She loved her grandchildren so much. Michael Walter, for his sensitivity and determination, Amanda Deborah, for her girly-girliness. She loved looking at American Girl catalogs with her. Megan Loretta for her good-natured way of making her smile. She loved my son Stephen, or Buddha-Boy as she called him. He's a big boy. She said he made her feel peaceful. She was a wonderful grandmother to them all.
My mother meant everything to my family and I . Her final words to me were,"I love you, too." Well, mom I love you more than you'll ever know. The Lord has a special angel now that you're with him, and those that you left behind are the people we are because of you. Your legacy is family, friends and love. I love you mom. May you rest in peace, and in no more pain.